Skip over navigation

Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication


David M. Bellos

Executive Committee

David M. Bellos, French and Italian, Comparative Literature

Denis Feeney, Classics

Rubén Gallo, Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures

Michael Gordin, History

Thomas W. Hare, Comparative Literature

Daniel Heller-Roazen, Comparative Literature, Council of the Humanities

Joshua T. Katz, Classics

Martin Kern, East Asian Studies

Alan W. Patten, Politics

Eileen A. Reeves, Comparative Literature, ex officio

Kim Lane Scheppele, Woodrow Wilson School, University Center for Human Values, Sociology

Esther H. Schor, English

Nigel Smith, English

Associated Faculty

Sandra L. Bermann, Comparative Literature

Sits with Committee

Christiane D. Fellbaum, Computer Science

Issues of translation and intercultural communication arise everywhere in the contemporary world: in literary texts, on the Internet, in television and film, in business, in science, and in questions of human rights. How does one translate the language of a poem? How does one translate a legal system or concepts such as democracy, or happiness, or scapegoat, or hero from one culture and language to another? How does the brain perform translation? What are the languages of artificial intelligence? How do we translate meanings across disciplinary as well as international borders--from genomics to dance, from philosophy to film?

The Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication, an affiliate of the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, seeks to allow students to develop skills in language use and in the understanding of cultural and disciplinary difference. Translation across languages allows access to issues of intercultural differences, and the program will encourage its students to think about the complexity of communicating across cultures, nations, and linguistic borders. For this reason, all students in the program must have proficiency in a language other than English, and must also spend time living in a country where that language is spoken.

Though the program takes linguistic translation as its base, and has a strong international flavor, it also encourages students to study other forms of discourse, the languages of different scholarly disciplines, for example, and seeks to foster lively debate among the humanities, the natural and social sciences, and the arts.

Admission to the Program

In order to enter the program, a student should normally have completed at least two courses at the 200 level or above in a language other than English.

Students seeking admission to the program should contact the program manager.

Program of Study

All students enrolled in the certificate program are required to successfully complete the following program requirements. Each student's specific course of study must be approved by the program director:

1. The program's two core courses: TRA 200 Thinking Translation: Language Transfer and Cultural Communication and TRA 400 Senior Seminar in Translation and Intercultural Communication.

2. Four courses at the 200 level or above from at least two of the following three categories:

a) Upper-level courses focusing on translation into and/or from a foreign language (examples include: SPA 380, FRE 407, ARA 308, and CWR 306)

b) Courses that contribute to an understanding of some aspect of translation (may be found in disciplines such as linguistics, psychology, philosophy, anthropology, history, comparative literature, etc.)

c) Any course listed or cross-listed by the Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication (with the exception of TRA 200 and TRA 400)

Courses outside these categories that contribute to an understanding of intercultural and interlingual communication may be substituted at the discretion of the program director.

3. International Experience. See Study and Work Abroad below.

4. Senior Thesis. Students in the program will write a senior thesis that incorporates issues of translation in one or more of its several senses. In departments where this option presents a difficulty, a student may petition to have another piece of independent work meet the requirement. Such projects may be completed, for instance, during a summer stay abroad.

Study and Work Abroad

Students wishing to achieve a certificate in the program will spend a year, a semester, or six weeks of the summer in a Princeton-approved course of study or internship program in an area where the chosen non-English language of proficiency is spoken.

Certificate of Proficiency

Students who fulfill all requirements for the program will receive a certificate of proficiency in translation and intercultural communication upon graduation.


TRA 200 Thinking Translation: Language Transfer and Cultural Communication (also COM 209/HUM 209)   Fall LA

An introduction to a wide range of issues arising in the many acts of translation that constitute the modern world. Built on a central thread of reflection about translating between languages--What is a language? What is meaning? What is meant by "equivalence"?--the course looks at issues in international relations, anthropology, artificial intelligence, cinema studies, literature, law, etc., that involve the boundaries of interlingual translation and intercultural communication to acquire a better understanding of the problems and practices of translation in the modern world. One lecture, one preceptorial. D. Bellos

TRA 208 Origins and Nature of English Vocabulary (see CLA 208)

TRA 301 Introduction to Machine Translation (also COS 401/LIN 304)  

With increased globalization, the need to communicate across linguistic barriers is constantly rising. There is a range of software and services in the market place that provide translation from one human language to another at varying degrees of sophistication and complexity. In this course, you will learn the inner workings of machine translation technology and gain the experience of building a simple machine translation system for a few language pairs. Students are required to have programming experience or should have completed COS 126. TRA 200 is recommended and may be taken simultaneously. One lecture, S. Bangalore

TRA 303 Bilingualism (see LIN 308)

TRA 312 Linguistics of American Sign Language (see LIN 312)

TRA 357 Literature, Culture, and Politics (see FRE 357)

TRA 380 Translation Workshop: Spanish to English (see SPA 380)

TRA 400 Senior Seminar in Translation and Intercultural Communication (also COM 409)   Fall LA

A required course for students taking the certificate in Translation and Intercultural Communication but open to all who are interested in translation in any of its aspects, that is, in movements between languages of any sort. Readings will focus on recent contributions to the emerging discipline of Translation Studies across a wide spectrum of thematic fields (science, law, anthropology, literature, etc.). The seminar will incorporate the individual experiences of the students in their contact with different disciplines and idioms and, where relevant, in developing their senior theses. Prerequisite TRA 200. One three-hour seminar. D. Bellos

TRA 407 Prose Translation (see FRE 407)